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Biochemistry Exposed: Uncovering Factors to Improve Female Libido

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Primarily absent within the research realm, female sexual desire, or lack thereof, is now making its presence known.

The FDA approved the first female libido enhancement drug, a controversial one which carries risky side-effects, requiring users to abstain from alcohol, while the most recent edition of the DSM has drawn a line in the sand, delineating male sexual desire from female arousal.

There has been a myriad of excuses which have paved the way for avoiding the rigorous clinical endeavors required for exploring the uncharted waters of female sexual desire.  Too often, females have been underrepresented in studies in comparison to our male counterparts.

However, as diminished female libido is able to encompass the paradoxical qualities of being both overlooked and pervasive, it has become increasingly necessary to discover the neurobiological underpinnings of what makes women tick.

Neurochemical Pathways Towards a Better Libido

Yet, because defining the pathways to female sexual desire are more consistent with a labyrinth than a one-way street, determining just exactly how to help enhance female libido is a daunting task.  Recent research has begun to unveil different neuroanatomical structures, as well as neurochemical pathways and neurotransmitters, involved in libido.

Dopamine, Serotonin and Libido

Quickly gaining recognition as a most valuable player among the excitatory neurotransmitters, dopamine is especially critical when it comes to experiencing feelings of reward and gratification.  Some research cites that sexual behavior involves both dopamine and serotonin.

In this scenario, dopamine functions to amplify feelings of libido/sexual desire, where serotonin serves to inhibit desire once sexually satiated.  More specifically, “dopamine has enabling effects on sexual motivation, copulatory competence, and genital reflexes.”[1] These are fairly salient functions for just one neurotransmitter.

In contrast, if serotonin (which counterbalances dopamine and other excitatory neurotransmitters), is in excess, it may contribute to low libido. Furthermore, with over-prescription and overuse, SSRI’s may be one deterrent to healthy libido in females, as these medications allow for the accumulation of serotonin in synapses. In fact, “some clinicians estimate the actual incidence of antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction to be as high as 85%.”[1]

Neurotransmitter Imbalances and Sexual Response

In a perfect world (or a perfectly functioning neuroendocrine system), dopamine and serotonin should weigh in equally on the scales of justice, so to speak. According to recent studies, decrease in sexual desire, “may arise from an imbalance of the excitatory and inhibitory neurobiological pathways that regulate mammalian sexual response.”[3] Other evidence demonstrates that when controlling for both age and BMI, total testosterone, free testosterone and DHEA-S have all been found to be lower in women who report concerns with libido.[2]

 

However, we are in luck and do not have to be held hostage by our biochemistry.  Since we can assess neurotransmitter and hormones levels, and utilize amino acid therapy & natural supplementation to naturally rebalance these neurotransmitters – it is reasonable to deduce that libido can be helped to some extent via these methodologies.

 

 

References

 

[1] Shankar, G. (2015, April 21). Serotonin and Sexual Dysfunction. Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/serotonin-and-sexual-dysfunction-2161-0479-1000e129.php?aid=52469

 

[2] Turna, B. et al. (2004, December 9). Women with low libido: Correlation of decreased androgen levels with female sexual function index. Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.nature.com/ijir/journal/v17/n2/full/3901294a.html

 

[3] Kingsberg, S. A., Clayton, A. H., & Pfaus, J. G. (2015, October 30). The Female Sexual Response: Current Models, Neurobiological Underpinnings and Agents Currently Approved or Under Investigation for the Treatment of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.researchgate.net/publication/283444725_The_Female_Sexual_Response_Current_Models_Neurobiological_Underpinnings_and_Agents_Currently_Approved_or_Under_Investigation_for_the_Treatment_of_Hypoactive_Sexual_Desire_Disorder

 

Clinical Contributor

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Connie Shoemaker, ND

Connie Shoemaker, ND

“Educating Sanesco’s clients is the culmination of a life’s work.” Beginning when she left the hospital environment to manage a functional laboratory, Genova Diagnostics (formerly Great Smokies Laboratories) in 1987, Dr. Connie Shoemaker has continued to increase her knowledge of herbs and biochemistry as a journey of love. With her bachelor’s in science from Western Carolina University, she had worked in hospital laboratories for the first twelve years of her career. Then, personal health challenges led her to discover a new approach to her health and a determination to share it with others. In 1991, she began teaching and educating innovative practitioners in the U.S. and internationally as a manager of marketing, sales, and customer service.

The addition of her Doctor of Naturopathy degree to her existing knowledge base expanded her knowledge and her respect for a more natural approach to healing through balance. At Sanesco, she initially served to oversee technical development of products and services.

Now, she educates Sanesco’s clients on application of the CSM™ model for their specific patients and how to integrate the CSM™ model with other modalities they offer in their practice. In her personal life, Connie educates private clients on various health topics.

Disclaimer: The information provided is only intended to be general educational information to the public. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have specific questions about any medical matter or if you are suffering from any medical condition, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

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One of our feel-good neurotransmitters; when it is deficient, we can suffer mood disorders, sleep issues and carb cravings.